If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, make sure to get out to the Highlands or coast as well as to cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow. The unspoiled landscapes really are spectacular and well worth a visit. We recently got a taste of St Andrews on a road trip from Edinburgh to Fife, a stunning region with a rich cultural and foodie heritage. Heading out of Edinburgh, we soon arrived at the three Forth Bridges. There’s the original Forth Bridge, opened in 1890, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Forth Road Bridge that we drove across, and Queensferry Crossing which is under construction and due to open imminently.
After about an hour we arrived in St Andrews, golfing capital of the world. Whilst that might seem quite an extravagant claim, golf has actually been played here since the 15th century. There are no less than seven public golf courses, with the most famous being the Old Course. Right in the heart of the town, it overlooks the North Sea. The oldest golf course in the world is one place any golfer needs to play! The town is also famous for its university where Prince William met Catherine Middleton.
The British Golf Museum is a few minutes from here and has an interesting art installation by Lawrence Holofcener, Faces of Golf features 116 of the sport’s golfing greats. Eagle-eyed readers will spot the faces of Rory McIlroy, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Jack Niclaus and…Mary Queen of Scots who was a keen golfer. There are over 17,000 items of golfing memorabilia inside the museum, which showcases 500 years of golfing history.
Our lunch destination, the Seafood Ristorante on Bruce Embankment has magnificent sea views over West Sands Beach to the sea.
The restaurant is bright and airy with an open kitchen and pizza oven. They specialize in seasonal Scottish cooking with an Italian twist.
The staff were very friendly and talked us through the menu of seafood specialties. You can see some of the dishes here, as well as our trip to Kingsbarns distillery and all of our adventures in Edinburgh.
We tried a fantastic starter of hand dived Ardnamurchan scallops, baked in the shell, Asian style.
Our starter of Scottish mackerel with flame grilled young leeks, buttermilk and kohlrabi was from the weekday lunch menu, great value at £17.50 for two courses.
Each course was equally impressive, with a superb red mullet, pepperonata and aubergine main course.
Other highlights included fritto misto, East Neuk crab spaghettini pasta with crab, chili and parsley, and a dessert of zabaglione with a homemade Madeleine.
We passed St Andrews Castle on our way to our next destination. I’d have loved to have time to stop and explore as the ruins are so picturesque. Parts of this former bishop’s palace date from the 13th century and there’s a unique underground mine.
From here, we headed through lovely countryside to one of the area’s top attractions, Kingsbarns Distillery. After all, it would be rude to come to Scotland and not to taste any whisky, wouldn’t it! Kingsbarns are known for their award-winning whiskies under the Wemyss label. Their connection with the whisky industry goes back to the 19th century. They’ve recently added gin to their roster, with a fantastic range of flavoured and regular Darnley’s gins.
The building was constructed in around 1800 as part of East Newhall Farm by the ninth Earl of Kellie, Thomas Erskine,
It’s been beautifully restored to include a cafe, exhibition and shop with a vast array of Wemyss malt whiskies, Darnley’s View gins and Rimauresq fine wines from the Wemyss family’s Provence vineyard.
Our experience started with a private guided tour of their museum dedicated to the local area, whisky and gin making. One of the most impressive features of the building is the “doocot” or dovecot. Back in the day, these 600 terracotta doo boxes housed a flock of pigeons. The ones below are not real but they had us fooled for a few minutes!
You’ll learn a lot about the history of whisky and get to tour the distillery itself. Barley grown in Fife is combined with pure mineral-rich water in an aquifer, then milled, mashed, fermented and distilled. Only 33 casks a week are made, with maturation in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years.
There are three different tours including a tasting session and a tour of the new Darnley’s Distillery will be available from Summer 2017. We were lucky to be given a sneak preview by Scott, the Visitor Centre Manager. The new distillery and tasting area will soon open in a former farmer’s cottage. There are already 2 beautifully furnished taster ròoms in the main building and in addition to the gin and whisky tasting, they’re thinking about offering an afternoon tea and gin experience which should prove popular.
We really enjoyed tasting the different gins including their small batch gin infused with elderflower and citrus, as well as the distinctive spiced gin.
Kingsbarns is only a few metres away from the beach and we’d have loved to visit but had to dash back for dinner in Edinburgh. There are many foodie producers along the coastal route, including the Ardross Farm Shop, so leave plenty of time to explore the local area. We hope you’ve enjoyed this taste of St Andrews and Fife, and that is has whetted your appetite to visit! Find out more about this stunning region on the Visit Scotland website, it’s a mine of information.
Have you ever been to St Andrews and Fife?